Proposal included a drive-thru Caribou Coffee and Urban Wok takeout restaurant
The Wayzata City Council voted down a development application proposing to turn the site of a vacant gas station into a drive-thru coffee shop and takeout restaurant.
The proposal, which was reviewed during the council’s April 19 meeting, would demolish the existing building on the site at 1022 Wayzata Blvd. E. and build a two-tenant retail building. The new business would have included Urban Wok, a takeout restaurant focused on Asian cuisine with inside seating for 16 people, and a Caribou Coffee concept called a “Caribou Cabin,” which would be designed for customer pickup and drive-thru use only.
The applicant behind the plan is Burnsville-based Reprise Design on behalf of property owner M & Z Holdings.
The project would require four approvals from the city: A lot combination, a comprehensive plan amendment to change the southern parcel from its central core residential designation to mixed-use commercial, a zoning map amendment and a conditional use permit for the drive-thru.
The business would be accessed through the Huntington Avenue right of way and a driveway on the west side of the site. There would also be drive-thru access as an exit only on the eastern side of the site.
On a 5-0 vote in March, the Wayzata Planning Commission directed city staff to prepare a report and recommendation of denial.
Wayzata Community Development Director Emily Goellner read through some of the commission’s findings. In the report, the commission noted that the proposed lot combination and site layout were not reflective of the surrounding lots and the neighborhood character. They also stated that the requested comprehensive plan amendment did not strengthen the sense of community nor increase walkability through the city. The report also noted the potential negative impact the drive-thru business could have for nearby residents.
“They noted that the proposed stacking lane and the order board intercom and the service window would create levels of noise and light and air quality that impact residential properties, notably to the south,” Goellner said.
The council voiced similar concerns held by both Planning Commission members and residents who spoke at the meeting.
“I am having some issues with this proposal in regards to the drive-thru,” Councilmember Molly MacDonald said, adding that she believed the traffic study included in the application was underestimating the amount of new traffic the coffee shop would create.
Councilmember Alex Plechash said he agreed with the assessment that the lot combination could adversely affect the neighborhood.
“The concept here is really not reflective of the neighborhood,” he said.
Councilmember Cathy Iverson said she also had concerns over the potential disruptions to traffic and neighboring residents caused by delivery and garbage trucks entering the leaving the site.
“Please keep trying,” she told the developer. “I think the right application will come in front of us, it’s just not this one.”
Councilmember Jeff Buchanan said that while he believed there was some validity for the lot combination and zoning change requests, he could not support the proposal as presented due to his concerns for pedestrian safety related to the drive-thru.
“If we’re about walkability in Wayzata – and as we’re embarking on a year-long study of Wayzata Boulevard and the whole corridor, we will encourage walkability – I just see this as a very dangerous proposition,” Buchanan said.
Mayor Johanna Mouton said she agreed with Buchanan’s view that a lot combination and zoning change made sense for this particular site, but added that she could not support the overall proposal because of her concerns over the potential impact on traffic movement in and out of the business, especially onto Wayzata Boulevard.
“It’s a difficult corner under the best of circumstances,” the mayor said, later adding, “I don’t see that ... the proposal is aligned with what we were looking to have in this location.”
On a 5-0 decision, the council voted to deny the lot combination, comprehensive plan amendment, zoning map amendment and conditional use permit for the redevelopment project.
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